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1st APRIL 1915. NEUVE EGLISE: Life & Death & Parcels.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY

STEAM MILL –  BAILLEUL 

29th  March, Mon.  Entrenching exercise. 2 Coys moving. 2 Coys afternoon trenches opposite one another 40 X apart (yards?).  30th March, Tue.  Entrenching practice and Bomb Throwing practice.
31st March, Wed.  Constructing  Barbed wire Entanglements, construction of hurdles &  improvement of trenches, morning.  At 1.15pm orders received to march to Bailleul . Moved off at 3.30 pm. Arrived Bailleul at 5.0 pm. Billeted there for the nightCertain proportion of Officers went to Neuve Eglise to inspect trenches & take over huts for Battn.
March Diary Signed by R.R.Raymer*, Lt.Col. Comdg. 1/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regt.
BULFORD CAMP: NEUVE  EGLISE   1st April, Thur. Morning in  Billets. Bn paraded at 2.30 pm & marched to  ‘Bulford Camp’ one mile SW of Neuve Eglisevacated by 2nd Bn Kings Own (R. Lancaster Regt).  Arrived Camp  5.0 pm.  (1)

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to FATHER, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, (H.W.W.Parr censor)1st April 1915

April 1st Thursday Morning.

My Dear Sir,

We are on the move again.  I believe we are going into the trenches again & will probably be in on Good Friday and Saturday.  I expect to see Sid today.  He is still away (1).  We were digging trenches yesterday morning & had to hurry back to the barn & go without dinner & dress in full pack & be off.

So what became of your handsome parcel?   I carried it along the march for some distance & then it dropped.  A. D. Jones then gave a hand (2).  I managed to get it here safe & thought best to open it just to see if anything important was inside.  What a fine handsome neatly made up parcel it is, some of Dad’s handling I bet; nothing whatever smashed. I just had  one cake & opened a neatly rolled handkerchief & read Ida’s letter.

– Yes it would be better to send separate parcels to my opinion, but what say you ?

Dear Dadit is encouraging just to see the way you address our parcels, for it reminds me of your deep consideration for us & pleasant cheerful face, as though as to express the idea that after all there is no reason to pine over this war.  Of course the sooner its over the better, but we must not come to terms of peace on any ground  – and then again what is the fighting?

Let’s hope for Eternal Life & we shall see one another again in happiness.  In past wars there have been men return home safe and sound.  Let’s hope that Sid & I will.  But what I cannot get cool about is the thought of seeing chums wounded when I myself am not & to return home after seeing fallen chums.  

Vernon, Sid and I – wasn’t it lucky we all got together weeks last Tuesday night when we went to the trenches last time.

I was kindly remembered by Mr A.E. Hurst last Sunday.  He sent me an interesting letter & a parcel full of good things, stationery, text books and some Cadbury’s Chocolate.  I’m glad you got the newspaper.  I will begin to conclude my letter now.  I still find it difficult to write short letters.

Afternoon.  Another long march just finished.  Am in a most comfortable wooden hut.  A cannon has just gone off, shook the place my word!  the loudest I’ve heard.  With the old QMS boys again.

Tell Mr Venables* Arthur B. looks very wellWe’ve all got parcels.  I’ve had to carry Sid’s parcel again, this time I tied it on my pack.

I wish you and Mother & all at home, as well as Harold & Miss Bore, a very pleasant Easter, hoping you will spend it all together round the tea table & remember Sid and me at Church

The weather is simply lovely and bright;  rather warm on the march.  We had had very cold weather & I have had chapped hands early part of the week.  Basil would like to be with us, but there are more than myself who think it best & fortunate that he is under age & not with us.  I still think of his exam and hope it will come off lucky.

I wrote a letter to Miss Foster before this, & just after the post came I got parcel of Cadbury Chocolate for Sid and me.  Sid is still away. After opening the parcel I put the handkerchief back again & paper on top & wrapped it up again.  I think I shall open it now for I don’t know what we shall do next.  Oh how nice it would have been to have had Sid with me & to spread the lovely napkin & divide the luxuries for tea.

I have carried V. Evans’ parcel & Sanger’s.  Vernon is with Sid & Corp. Sanger*.  I shall have to close now with the very best of wishes & happiness.  I am keeping jolly well.  There goes another Jack Robinson –  I don’t think!  (4)

Bertram.  

PS Have written to Miss Foster & will write to Mother later.

******************************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Neuve Eglise Fr. /Nieuwkerke Flemish. (2Sydney Hibbett (with Vernon Evans & Sanger) was no doubt involved in preparations for move to Bulford Camp, & Wulverghem Trenches, opposite Messines.

(3Bertie was trying to carry a parcel about 8 miles to Bailleul on top of his full pack. By the time he finished this letter he had carried it another 9 miles to Bulford Camp. (4) A ‘Jack Robinson’: 1st WW  nickname for a shell or bomb . (Identity 18th C. real person lost: term assoc. with immediate/ sudden change ‘as quick as you can say Jack Robinson’).

NEXT POST:  2nd APRIL, 1915. Also Update of Welcome Page.

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20th Dec. 1914: Saffron Walden. Christmas Weather & Church Parade

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT to MOTHER at 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. 

29, Gold Street, Saffron Walden, Essex

How many days does a letter take to reach you from here ?

My Dear Mother,

A bright, cold, dry morning greeted me as I opened the little cottage door and stepped down the clean & spacious Gold Street.  “Breakfast ready?”, said I when I peeped into the ‘Cook Hus’ Yard & saw the dishes all in a row on the bricked up fire.  “Not ready yet”,  replied the cook & so up I trotted to billets again with jug in hand, from trot to run almost, even with my ‘feet’(1), for it really was a sharp air.  “Beginning to have Christmas weather”, I said on seeing the landlady.  “Parade 9  for Church”, I shouted to the others, for I was first this morning again.

Saffron Walden Church
St Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden

The march up to the Church was bright and cheery and on entering the Parish Church again the sun was shining through the windows & the pillars, shining up the white stone & making the whole interior so lovely and clear.  The Church was soon full of soldiers & I saw that we had one of our men as organist.  The service was beautiful again, more so with having our own Brigade Major (2) read the lesson.  To see him in his khaki with scarlet shoulder badges mount up the lectern to read was very peculiar.  A very nicely spoken man is our Brig. Major.  He has a very fresh complexion and looked so handsome. What  oh!

I have just come back from evening service.  You would have loved to see the processional, the white line of choristers, with the Ministers at the back showing their red and black hoods.  Hymns for the evening were – processional  ‘Through the night of doubt and sorrow,  onward  goes the pilgrim band’,  2. ’Praise to the holiest in the height’  3. ‘How sweet the name ‘ 4. ‘Onward Christian soldiers’.  Morning we had ‘Through the night of doubt’  again,  ‘When I survey’  and ‘For all the saints who from their labours rest’ (3).

On  Saturday night I met our dear old friend – who do you believe it was ? – why our long-lost chum Ball* (4)  So what do you think were my last words to him ?  I told him to come in some time and have a chat with us.  I said Syd was in –  but Ball said he was very busy & would call another time.  He came in this Sunday afternoon while we were round the front room fire.  Syd was lying full length asleep one side of the fireplace, while Vernon E. was at the other and I was seated on a chair.  In came the robust gentleman soldier & we had a right good fireside chat.

We showed him the shells Mrs Penning’s son (5) had brought home at one time & he knew all about them & explained the way they are exploded.  They were just liked those fired at Whitby and Scarborough (6).

Whitby Damage

I shall have to get him to tea at Christmas –  although he’s in ‘C’ Coy & has arranged Christmas dinner with a few others of his Coy.  He is billeted in our street.  How funny that I did not see him till I bumped into him on Saturday.

Cresswell* (7), a United Counties Bank clerk,  who joined the O.T.C. with us & was 1st in the Gun Section, is now on Secret Service and wears mufti.  Well I will stop now, else I shall not be able to write one of my Christmas letters which will exceed ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? pages!

We are all keeping in good health and happiness.  Vernon sais I am much fatter than when I first joined and ‘Ike’ (8) the secretary, who puts all our doings in the Walsall Papers , sais I’ve grown somewhat, so I’m all very well, there’s no fear.

Fond love to all.  Remember me to Dodger. I expect a few lines from him at Christmas.

Yours ever affec.

Bertie.

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB 2009

(1) Bertie’s feet seems never to have had time to heal. (2)  Brigade Major (info. pending). (3) Hymns for Advent & Wartime. No  celebration of Christmas before 24th Dec. in 1914. (4) Pte Ball*.  (5Arthur Penning*. (6)German Raid:16th Dec. 1914: .  (7Cresswell*, (8) Pte Isaac Boulton*.

NB * Starred Names: See Updated S. Staffs Soldiers Page.

 NEXT POSTS: Loose Sheets 20th Dec. 1914; Letter to Dad Arthur Hibbett, 24th Dec. 1914.